Fire Separation Required?

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Fire Separation Required?

Postby forumadmin » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:55 pm

A property owner wishes to add a “man cave” on the rear side of an existing garage. This space will be insulated and heated, it will have a toilet and hand sink connected to the sanitary sewer. A refrigerator and oven are depicted on the plan. Discuss all of the issues.
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Re: Fire Separation Required?

Postby mikeselon » Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:05 am

In our city the Planning Division would consider this to be an "Accessory Dwelling Unit" and has very specific zoning requirements. It normally is not allowed as most lots are limited to one dwelling unit per parcel zoned as single family residential. 8)
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Re: Fire Separation Required?

Postby RDavidson » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:09 pm

For purposes of discussion I will assume that a CO has been issued for a single dwelling unit.

There are the issues out of the control of the building official such as how the property is taxed (homestead) and how it is regulated by local zoning ordinances. I would make my decision exclusive of those issues (not my problem).

From a building code standpoint, as long as the work meets the requirements of the IRC, I don’t see that there is a problem for the building department. If the garage is detached and on a slab, there may be issues relative to the foundation as slab on grade foundations are only permitted for one story private garages, carports, and sheds. If the garage is attached to the existing dwelling, then it wouldn’t be expected that there are any large foundation obstacles to overcome. The code requires that a garage be separated from a residence and its attic. You would need to determine if you believe that this “man cave” is part of the “residence”. The IRC doesn’t define “residence” and doesn’t use the term “dwelling unit” (which is defined) in the fire separation requirement. If you take them as synonymous, then a dwelling unit is a place for sleeping and if the man cave doesn’t have sleeping rooms then it isn’t a dwelling unit unless you include sleeping on a recliner or a toilet as constituting a sleeping room. There is no limit on the number of plumbing fixtures, cooking devices, etc. that can be placed anywhere in a structure provided the installation meets the code. I have seen elaborate gazebos and other outdoor living rooms that have many amenities, not unlike what is suggested in the question.

As long as the permit application did not identify or suggest that the structure was being converted into two dwelling units, I would look at this space as accessory to the dwelling unit. I don’t believe a fire separation is required. There are folks who have bars, refrigerators, tv’s, etc. in their garages and garages aren’t particularly hazardous. I don't see this as anything different.
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